Jackson trio survive attack, robbery in Peru
By Lindsay Wood, Jackson Hole, Wyoming
January 4, 2013
A trio of Jackson residents were attacked a week ago while on a climbing trip in Peru.
Jennifer Wolfrom, her brother, Joseph Wolfrom, and sister-in-law Meghan Doherty say they were trapped, beaten and robbed by villagers Dec. 29 and 30 outside Cuzco, Peru.
“This situation has not only been extremely traumatic both mentally and physically, but has also become a huge financial burden for the three of us,” Wolfrom wrote in a blog post about the ordeal on AdventureAmericas.wordpress.com.
Joseph Wolfrom and Doherty had been trekking through parts of Central and South America for the past nine months in their truck without danger. As part of a 10-day vacation, Jennifer Wolfrom flew to Cuzco on Dec. 22.
After a few days in Cuzco, the trio set out to hike in the Asungate Mountains. Upon leaving the mountains, the group parked the truck near a bridge in the village of Palca.
Two men approached the threesome and told them it would be OK to camp there, Wolfrom wrote. The men then blew whistles and used cellphones to signal other members of the village to the area. The crowd then demanded official documents.
The family attempted to drive away, but ran into a series of roadblocks. According to Wolfrom’s blog, the villagers threw rocks at the truck, cutting Jennifer Wolfrom’s jaw, knocking out Joseph Wolfrom’s front teeth and leaving all three bloodied.
“It very much seemed like a planned, organized attack with each of the villagers blowing whistles, signaling other villagers to come out and join the chase,” Wolfrom said in the blog post. “There were at least 30 people chasing us and throwing rocks at us at one point.”
They were forced back to the village, where the crowd took them to the school, separated them, whipped them with ropes and took all their belongings, she wrote.
Held at gunpoint, the threesome was forced to sign a document stating that their injuries were the result of a drunken car crash. After reassuring the villagers that they would tell police the injuries were from an accident, four Policia National officers arrived at 7:30 a.m. the next morning.
The three were taken by ambulance 30 minutes later to a hospital in Ocongate, Peru, where they received 100 stitches between them.
As of Thursday, the Wolfroms and Doherty were still stuck in Peru with no money or passports and extensive injuries. Wolfrom said they have had to change airline tickets to have time to meet with the police and replace their passports.
An estimated $10,695 in gear, clothing and documents were taken from them.
Currently, the Wolfroms and Doherty are seeking financial help from any resources available and working with the U.S. Consulate in Cuzco to return home.
The Wolfroms’ sister, Kristine, also has been in contact with state Sen. Leland Christensen.
A friend, Rachel Segien, has set up a fund to aid them online, and the effort is in its second phase at CrowdTilt.com. An initial crowd-funding effort, which saw 265 contributors giving $15,787, was closed so the trio could access the funds.